At the height of the country's socio-economic crisis, Zimbabwe lost the entire 2007 and part of the 2008 academic years as teachers and lecturers concentrated on meeting basic survival needs through alternative means. Unicef asserts 94% of rural schools, serving the majority of the population, were closed by 2009, with attendance plunging from over 80% to 20%.
Years of serious underfunding have forced the country's tertiary institutions to operate under the principles of economic rationalism, rather than principles of education. In colleges and universities, students quality is secondary to ability to pay.
Naturally, Zimbabweans are deeply concerned about declining academic standards at all levels of education and have questioned preferential college and university admissions and relaxed standards of curriculum, teaching, grading and marking.
Education minister David Coltart places the decline in quality of education on government's misplaced priorities.
"Zimbabwe's investment in education has drastically declined in the past two decades due to misplaced priorities and the sector still remains in a state of crisis," Coltart said. "The inclusive government is spending three times more money on globetrotting compared to education and this has compromised the quality of education."
Private colleges have mushroomed across the country's urban areas as proprietors seek to make a quick buck, raising fears that the colleges, once frequented by those who had initially failed their public exams, were compromising education standards. But Coltart dismissed the fears, saying the advent of private institutions had not compromised the quality of education because students still write the same examinations.
"It is the funding that is needed to maintain our standards," he said.